THE KILKENNY youths team completed their Culleton Cup preparations with a hard-fought draw against Waterpark on Saturday.
The scoreline did not reflect the quality of this challenge game, which was played in wet conditions in Waterford, against the Munster League quarter-finalists Waterpark. While both sides were short several players due to illness Kilkenny, playing their sixth game since Christmas, were the happier side in the end as they had suffered a heavy defeat to the same opposition in their opening game of the campaign.
While Waterpark dominated the early exchanges Kilkenny defended resolutely. The visitors grew into the game, despite conceding a soft try after 18 minutes. Waterpark opened the scoring when scrum-half Dunne breezed past the Kilkenny defence to score unopposed.
Kilkenny played clever rugby and took the game to ’Park until the half-time whistle. They kept their momentum going on the turn-around, dominating the lineouts despite playing into the breeze and rain. The team took the opportunity to run through a variety of moves with Cormac Connolly, Sean Moran and fast-improving newcomers Colin Corcoran and Robbie Hennessy running hard at the Park defence.
Kilkenny went close to scoring on a number of occasions before Gary Dunne drove over from a five-yard scrum to level the game 20 minutes into the second half. Sean Moran and Tom Cuddihy went close to increasing their haul before Kilkenny lost full-back Jack Drew and another impressive newcomer, David Kennedy, to injury.
Despite added Waterpark pressure, Kilkenny managed to repel the hosts until the final whistle. There was a late moment of panic, when some poor decision making allowed the hosts through, but a Waterpark player dropped the slippy ball while diving for the line.
Kilkenny will face Boyne B in their Culleton Cup first round game this Saturday. While Kilkenny will be favourites the hosts are dangerous opponents, having reached the semi-finals of the Leinster League (Division One) while also training with the Premier Division A team.
Training for the youths continues tomorrow (Thursday) ay 7pm. Newcomers welcome.
Kilkenny: Jack Drew, Robbie Hennessy, Colin Corcoran, Cormac Connolly, David Sutton, Sean Moran, Luke Rafter, Nick Feehan, James Rafter, Cian Smith, David Kennedy, Ciaran Martin, Tom Cuddihy, Shaun Fitzgerald, Gary Dunne.